April 25, 1950. President of the Republic Luigi Einaudi in person conferred to Reggio Emilia the Resistance Military Value Gold Medal, for the considerable role played during the Italian Liberation War.
It is still possible to admire the traces of this past in places, symbols and artworks in the Reggio Emilia province. From the partisan paths in the Apennines to the street-art works, following this route we will make you relive the salient facts of Italian history.
Our tour starts in the town. In Piazza Martiri del 7 Luglio is the Resistance Monument; inaugurated April 25, 1958, it is a bronze work by the sculptor Remo Brioschi, depicting the last moments of life of some victims of Nazi-Fascism. Not far away, beside the Teatro Municipale Romolo Valli is the Memorial bearing the names of the fallen of the Reggio Emilia Resistance for the independence of our country.
We move (better by bicycle or e-bike) to Piazza Gioberti, where starts the so-called XVIII-century Walk, connecting the town centre to the Crostolo Park. Walking Viale Umberto I you arrive at Casa Bettola, a self-managed roadman’s house decorated by the murals made by Pietro Anceschi and Guerrilla Spam.
The first one depicts the only survivor of the Bettola slaughter, one of the most heinous made by the Nazi-Fascists in Italy, during which 32 civilians and 3 partisans died on St. John’s Night of 1944.
In the second one, in addition to the forest creatures, are figures of the resistant history of Reggio Emilia: partisan commander Sirio - Paride Allegri – who plants trees and the Cervi Brothers’ tractor with the globe plowing the earth.
We now follow the Crostolo stream northwards to the motorway entrance. Right next to the A1 motorway is the home of the Manfredi brothers, a symbol of anti-fascism, a fugitive house and base of the Resistance for young partisans. In 2020 the big street-art mural "Reggio Emilia Partisan" was made here by Fabio Valentini known as Neko and Marco Temperilli known as Maik.
Moving to the province you can admire another two beautiful murals by Vera Bugatti, that decorate the House in the Park of Correggio. Both inspired by the 1997 documentary film "Partisans" and the sources of the Correggio Anpi archive, they tell the story of a partisan dispatch rider and an undercover printing house: Clam decorates the small wall, the Campi capovolti (Overturned Fields) the big one.
If you are curious to discover the hidden meanings in the work, read on at the website verabugatti.it.
Crossing the lower Reggio Emilia plain you can reach Gattatico, where the Institute dedicated to the best-known family of the Italian Resistance is located.
Father Cervi, symbolic figure of the Italian postwar period, and his seven children lived in the farmhouse, now turned into a Museum to tell the story of peasant movements, Anti-Fascism and the Resistance to posterity. The visit itinerary winds through three main sections: Peasant work, Anti-Fascism and Resistance, A family in memory.
After the tour of the inner spaces, it is possible to visit the farm worked by the Cervi Family, now turned into an Agri-environmental Park depicting the naturalistic history of the middle Po valley and its evolution in relation to the progressive and close relationship with human beings.
Along the course of the Enza river, between the provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia, important pages of Anti-Fascism and Resistance have been written, and the stories of women and men, not only Italians, have been intertwined under the flag of freedom. There are several places that keep their memories, an important resource for facing the present challenges. To this aim, the CAI 672 “Freedom Path” has been created; the path connects Canossa to Brescello crossing nine towns; a total route of 59 kilometres along the Enza river, passing through San Polo d’Enza, Montecchio Emilia, Sant’Ilario d’Enza and Gattatico.
In this route we suggest you to go along the route 4 from Montecchio Emilia to San Polo d’Enza: after visiting the centre of Montecchio Emilia, with its wonderful Medieval castle, you can move to the hamlet of Borgo Enza, where the path running the Enza stream to the Laghi della Ninfa (Nymph Lakes), sport fishing area, begins. From here, following the 672 Path, the road gets paved and leads to the cycle path running along the ring road to San Polo d’Enza, until it reaches the town with its fortified village. The route from Montecchio Emilia to San Polo d’Enza is 11 km long, and the travel time (excluding stops) is around 3 hours.
You can consult all routes for free by downloading the App Sentieri Appennino (Apennines Paths), and the historical events are online at the interactive website laviadellaliberta.it.
The tour ends in the upper Reggio Emilia Apennines, a land of Nazi-Fascist clashes and reprisals. Walking along the 16 partisan paths, slowly, one step after another, you can learn about the history of the Reggio Emilia Resistance and, at the same time, discover the wonderful landscape of the Tosco-Emiliano Apennines National Park, now MAB Unesco reserve.
By returning to the places of these events can one understand the desire for justice that prompted the partisans to fight and fully experience the meaning of this route in Reggio Emilia.
From San Polo d’Enza head towards Casina. On the way you can admire three of the most beautiful Matildic castles: Canossa, which became famous throughout Europe for the humiliation of Emperor Henry IV, Rossena one of the best preserved castles, and Sarzano, overlooking the start of the 3rd partisan path, the one dedicated to the Civil Resistance: from the parking of the Casina cemetery, take the paved road climbing to the castle, at the crossroads keep left and near the CAI 650 and SP 3 signs, continue along the path descending into the vegetation. Near the ruins of the Mulino della Grotta (Cave Mill), after crossing the footbridge, you will find the memorial stone dedicated to the partisan "Bixio". Continuing the route, you go along Monte Faiedolo, crossing some old metati (ancient buildings for drying chestnuts) up to the Felina Tombstone, where starts the 7th path dedicated to the Women of the Resistance.
There are 16 routes, some of which are circular, that may be consulted online at the website sentieripartigiani.it. Select the path that most inspires you and set off to discover the Reggio Emilia Apennines!